Canadian Astronaut Helps Discover Ireland’s Best Schools Science Videos

Reaching for the Stars are (l-r) Justina Smidtaite, Scoil Bhríde, Shantalla, Galway and Charlie O’Connell, Scoil Éanna, Bullaun, Co Galway. Photographer Claire Riordan.
Nov 10 2015 Posted: 11:03 GMT

Winning schools from Dublin, Galway and Kerry make a Big Bang with their videos about Space and Light at NUI Galway’s ReelLIFE SCIENCE 2015 Competition

Canadian Astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield, has helped discover the best new science videos made by Irish primary and secondary school students, just in time for Science Week 2015. The winners of the €3000 NUI Galway video competition, ReelLIFE SCIENCE, were announced today (9 November 2015) as, Scoil Aonghusa Senior, Tallaght, Dublin 24, at primary school level, and Solas O’Halloran and Matt Tyrkiel from Causeway Comprehensive School, Co Kerry at secondary school level.

Supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme and the Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) at NUI Galway, ReelLIFE SCIENCE challenged Irish primary and secondary schools to make short videos, which would entertain and educate people, on a range of scientific topics. The challenge was met by more than 1,200 students and teachers in 77 schools around Ireland, producing over 120 science videos in both English and Irish.

Speaking about the competition, Commander Hadfield said: “Discovery and creativity, turned loose by imagination. A great project that I am proud to be a part of.” Joining Commander Hadfield on the judging panel were Trinity College Dublin Professor of Molecular Evolution, Aoife McLysaght and BT Young Scientist and Technologists of the Year 2015, Ian O'Sullivan and Eimear Murphy from Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk, Co Cork.

Primary School Winners
The judges selected ‘Scoil Aonghusa Rocket Launch’, produced by 4th class students of Scoil Aonghusa Senior, Tallaght, under the direction of their teacher Jennie Smith, as the best primary school video, and deserving winners of the €1000 first prize. The video, a news report live from Tallaght’s first manned rocket launch, was described by Commander Hadfield as “fun” and “well-acted”, while Professor McLysaght praised the “humour interspersed with the science,” remarking that, “This video is great fun and I think the pupils had fun making it too!”

An animated, bilingual video called ‘Ag Dearadh an Todhchaí’, described as “very enjoyable” and “charming” by the judges, examined the Science Week 2015 theme ‘Design Your Future’ predicting the future for medicine, space travel and even teleportation. Claiming the €300 second prize, the video was made by 4th and 5th class students in Gaelscoil Riabhach, Baile Locha Riach, Co na Gaillimhe. In third place, winning €200, were the 5th and 6th classes from Sooey NS, Co Sligo, with ‘Ninja Nematodes’, introducing us to some of the creatures living in our soil, a “complicated topic explained very well through a brilliant production.” Also shortlisted were 2nd class students from Gaelscoil Bhaile Munna, Baile Átha Cliath 9, with their video about gravity, ‘Imtharraingt’; and an original musical number ‘Water is Cool for School: Hydration for Concentration’ written and performed by 4th class students in Scoil Éinde Boys NS, Galway.

Secondary School Winners
The 2015 secondary school competition saw Causeway Comprehensive School, from Causeway, Co Kerry, improve on last year’s third place finish by claiming the Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM ) sponsored first prize of €1000, with a video entitled ‘The Mystery of Light’. The filmmakers, 5th year students Solas O’Halloran and Matt Tyrkiel, were hailed as “engaging hosts” by Commander Hadfield, while he described their video as being “cool, well explained” and “dramatically filmed.”

In second place, a “well-narrated” animation with “excellent drawing” from Transition Year student Anna Deprisse, entitled ‘Marie Curie: Heroine of Science’ impressed the judges, winning €300 for Loreto Secondary School, Kilkenny. A “humorous look at the properties of light” by 5th year students Eoghan Donoghue and Sean Paul Fenlon, earned Killina Presentation Secondary School, Tullamore, Co Offaly the third prize of €200. Also shortlisted were two videos tackling the topic of evolution: ‘From Shrew to You’ by Transition Year students from Coláiste Muire, Ennis, Co Clare; and ‘Evolution – What Happens Next?’ a “very cool claymation" produced by 5th year students from De La Salle College, Waterford.

ReelLIFE SCIENCE is organised by Dr Enda O’Connell and a team of science communication enthusiasts, in collaboration with the Cell EXPLORERS outreach programme from NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences. The competition has been running since 2013, and previous year’s videos have tens of thousands of views in over 100 countries, and have featured on RTE2’s News2Day and TG4’s Cúla4 programmes.

Dr O’Connell congratulated all of the participants, saying: “We were hugely impressed with the standard of this year’s entries. The hours of hard work and passion for science displayed by the students were apparent in the videos, making it a very difficult decision for the judges. Well done to everyone who took part!”

All the videos can be viewed at and will be shown to the general public as part of the 18th Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition, held in NUI Galway on Sunday, 22 November. The videos are also on display at Galway City Museum and the Galway Film Centre during Science Week 2015.


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